Effective communication in the workplace
Effective communication in the workplace

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Effective communication in the workplace

3.2 Sharing bad news

Sharing bad news in the workplace might involve telling someone they haven’t got a promotion, discussing poor performance or even giving notice of redundancy. If you’re not a leader, you might have to tell other team members that work won’t be completed on time or inform clients that you’re going to miss a delivery deadline.

These types of conversations are tough, but there are better ways to deliver the news.

First, always deliver bad news in person. While presenting it in an email might avoid facing the initial reaction, you will have to deal with the consequences at some point and hearing it directly from you might cause the receiver to react more positively.

The Business Administration department at New England College (no date) suggests five primary steps for delivering bad news:

  1. Prepare for the conversation itself. You need to completely understand the situation before speaking with the person involved. Make sure you can address all the details clearly and accurately.
  2. Alert the employee/colleague as to the nature of the conversation. Aim to be direct but delicate, delivering the bad news in a simple and straightforward way. Use short sentences and clear phrasing.
  3. Be honest and reliable. Stay objective, treat the person with respect and don’t try to sugarcoat the truth or soften the blow. Be honest.
  4. Demonstrate empathy. Think about how you’d treat a friend in the same situation. Give care and understanding and deliver the news in a place where they can work through emotions and retain their dignity.
  5. Give people time to take in the news. Allow time for the person to process the levity of the conversation. Answer questions and make sure they fully understand the situation.

Sometimes, you might find that the news isn’t received as badly as you anticipate. By preparing for the conversation, you’ll be in a better position to adapt and respond to their needs.

COM_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371